Category Archives: Welt


My cat of sixteen years passed away about four hours ago. It’s been nothing but difficult these past few hours. I’m filled with longing and hurt, and sadness, mostly. I loved Inky tremendously. He was with me through thick and thin, big and small – the birth of my daughter, the death of family members, the deliberations of relationships, and the demise of jobs. I feel like I was punched in the stomach right now, ready to throw up my memories and not willing to let them, or him, go.
He was born around October 31, 1992. He came to me through the window of my apartment in Albany, New York, where I was going to graduate school. In fact, he had already made a name for himself. The landlord upstairs told me about a cat and I expressed little interest. When he came around once and then twice, I took him in and kept him. And I’ve had him ever since, with the exception being when my then girlfriend took great care of him while I was studying in Poland.
He was a gorgeous friend. I spent the day with him, lying with him, holding him, petting him, trying to imagine what life would be like without him and I couldn’t. Now I can’t imagine what life was like with him. It’s as if the swinging doors of existence only swing one way. I find it so strange, so appalling, and so grotesque that I don’t know what to do with myself.
He had cancer for the past 10 months so, mostly in his paw. It led to a very circuitous track of looking for a vet that would help him and diagnose him correctly and act like they cared. In the end, I found that vet, and he administered the dose of drugs that gave him the lethal push into the ether.
I was with Inky all day, as a I said. He slightly resisted going into his cage before we left the house and, in the car, I looked back a few times to see his bright, green, lovely eyes looking at me. I think he knew what was happening, kind of. The cancer had gotten to his lungs and chest and he was wheezing and breathing heavily the past four days. Yesterday, he came downstairs to my office and let out two sounds I hadn’t heard before; they were something like a cry of pain and a call for help. I believe he was having trouble breathing coming down the stairs to see me. He plopped himself down and I attended to him. In the end, he was a supremely smart cat, often understanding what you said. He would wag his tail at me in approval today and he got up the energy to purr with me when I lied on his side with him.
But I have questions. Lots of questions. Did I put him down at the right time? Could it have been tomorrow? Was he really in pain and how much? Could it have two or three days from now? Why so soon? And why couldn’t we just hold on to him for a while?
More generally, why does all the literature say that feline euthanasia is painless (which I’m sure it was today) yet we don’t administer it to ourselves? Inky’s last tiny little meal was a bit of tuna from a Fancy Feast can. Did that animal who died to feed him suffer?
Even more generally, where is Inky right now? Is he in the stars as I imagine or in the nowhere that scares us all? What happened during his transition from here to there? Could I have done something, earlier in his life, to have prevented this from happening? What kind of world do we live in that this is what moves me?
I recognize that I’m grasping at many different straws here. This post is mostly an attempt at publicly acknowledging my grief, which is shared by my wife and child and others that knew and loved Inky. He was adorable. Sweet. Smart. Truly wonderful to behold, hug, and love.
Postscript: I found these two quotes to be helpful:
As to “ending his suffering” – one may and should do so as soon as the animal has no chance of recovery and is only suffering – (source: “Code of Jewish Law” E.H. 5:14).
Once an animal is dead, burial or cremation is permitted – (source: Exodus 22:30).


Okay, I’m 41. It’s a bizarre number.
More importantly, 3 million people are voting in Texas and Gary Gygax passes away.
The good news about birthdays when you’re over 40 is that you get a free pass for the day. Forgot to do something? It’s okay. Have to take a longer bath? It’s okay. Not up for cooking tonight? It’s okay. Want to buy a new book or something? It’s okay. Short post? It’s okay.


I just went outside in the -15 F weather here and looked at the crazy total lunar eclipse occurring until 12:30 a.m. It looks like a red marble, sitting high above the world, half suspended in space near two bright stars. The next total eclipse of the moon will happen in 2010.


My new ENT physician here point blank told me that the entire purpose of human sleep is to dream. I was shocked by the simplification and moved by its beauty. If the Surrealists were right, that we live our days in order to dream at night, then, by the Associative Property (I think), I can extrapolate the good doctor’s statement to say the following: “We live in order to dream.”


I don’t understand a word of Tom Cruise’s weird, suppressed interview that is now making the rounds. The video is no longer available on YouTube, bastards, but Gawker has said that they “will not be removing it.”
Sorry I haven’t written in a while. There are too many people out there right now saying more interesting things than me.

When you’re a Scientologist, and you drive by an accident, you know you have to do something about it, because you know you’re the only one who can really help. We are the authorities on getting people off drugs. We are the authorities on the mind…. We are the way to happiness. We can bring peace and unite cultures. Now is the time. Being a Scientologist. People are turning to you. If you are a Scientologist, you see things the way they are, in all their glory, in all their complexity… It’s rough and tumble. It’s wild and woolly. It’s a blast. It really is. It is fun. Because damn it, there is nothing better than going out there and fighting the fight, and suddenly you see — boom! — things are better. I want to know that I’ve done everything I can do, every day… I do what I can. And I do it the way I do everything.


I’m sitting here on our front porch, writing and watching. It’s an amazing 20 degrees Celsius (68 Farhenheit) here and the earth feels, for some and other reasons, sterling.
The light on the freshly mowed lawns look silver in the deep shadowed air. The horizon, from what little I can see of it, holds off far into the distance, a gray streak rising above the crowded trees out West. If I squint my eyes, I can almost see the sun, which is shining against the windows bright white with halos of summer gold. The breeze is barely perceptable, colored by the light of day. I love this feeling. The air uncirculating yet it’s unstifling and the stillness of the day is only cut by the traffic running on the busy street only doors down. On the tops of the cars there is a glint, a cover of brightness that stings the eyes for a moment and then falls away. This glint and glinting, it’s what dreams are made of.
The trees have lost their leaves so there’s no faking it now; this is not summer. It is Fall.
But it’s a Fall day that reminds of me of childhood days back East, or at least, college days in New England. There, the leaves would fall more slowly but, with a light jacket and a good book, the entire afternoon would feel this way. Calm with cars. Light given off grass. Certainty surrounding uncertainty and the aquisition of tainted knowledge.
And I realize now another reason why I’m relishing this moment and writing about this moment. It’s this: there is no moralizing, no mechanism or politics around the description of nature. It is and it will always will be. And it’s true.

Cat's Cradle.

My cat is dying. It’s a slow, probably painful, dying. A few months ago, he gained a small, weird sore on his front paw and it didn’t heal. It was weird: bloody on occasion, crusty on others, green on others. It changes constantly. I’ve taken Inky to one vet and then another and then another. The first one I went to was okay. Honest and trying, he ultimately recommended I talk with a veterinary surgeon to have his paw removed. But at 15 or so, it’s doubtful he would make it through that surgery; or so says the fourth vet we’ve seen and I think he’s right. At this point, it’s palliative care. It’s hard to know how far the cancer has spread from his paw, though it’s definitely spread. An x-ray shows that it’s near his heart. This has been going on for about six months now and it can’t be painless for him. We’re doing a “pulsing” regimen of antibiotics to keep the infection from overwhelming him and now he’s also on daily pain relief drops. Inky is the smartest cat I’ve owned or seen. He knows what is happening, I think, and he’s taking it on like the tough guy I know he is.


I bought the new Stars album the other day. It’s okay. It sounds like they learned, somewhere on the wide road between their home in Toronto and their fans in the States, that they need to take themselves seriously. I’ve met one of their managers but I’m sure it’s not her fault.
In the August 30, 2007, New Yorker, David Owen writes about humanity’s lack of contact with the heavens that have been with us since forever, before it all. “And civilization’s assuault on the stars has consequences far beyond its impact on astronomers. Excessive, poorly designed outdoor lighting wastes electricity, imperils human health and safety, disturbs natural habitats, and, increasingly, deprives many of us of a direct relationship with the nighttime sky, which throughout human history has been a powerful source of reflection, inspiration, discovery, and plain old jaw-dropping, wonder.”
Adam Gopnik, another of my favorite writers, in the same issue speaks of Philip K. Dick’s new relevance today, despite his death in the early 1980s. Gopnik writes about the central metaphor of Dick’s work: “The social arrangement of power is always that of a brute oligarchic minority forcing its will on a numbed population, with amusements the daily meal and brutality the implicity threat; for all that has changed technologically, that fatal pattern has never really altered.” And this: “The vision of an unending struggle between a humanity longing for a fuller love it always senses but can’t quite see, and a deranged cult of violence eternally presenting itself as necessary and real–this thought today does not seem exactly crazy.”
Today, Google <a href="announced that users of Google Earth could now see the stars above their location with the application’s latest version. This is perhaps the last way humans will see the heavens above.

1/16 of a Second.

I saw a recent documentary in which the earth’s history was represented by a 24-hour clock. If the planet is at Midnight now, bacteria have filled the planet with oxygen since 8:00 this morning. The dinosaurs came on the scene around 9:30 pm. Humans entered about 30 seconds ago. By this scale, I figure we polluted the planet in the last 1/16 of a second.


I returned today from a trip back East, to both Philadelphia and New York. On my flight from Philly to Minneapolis, I got to sit with an U.S. Army medic and soldier who was just coming back, hours ago, from Baghdad. We had a three-hour long, rambling conversation about the United States, Iraq, the future of the war, and media coverage. I’m not as bleary-eyed as he was, but I did get up at 3:30 am. Here is what I learned:
A lot of soldiers in Iraq, despite 7 years under President Bush, blame President Clinton for having done very little in the 1990s to stem and unroot Al Quaeda. The USS Cole was a defining moment in this history – many soldiers feel he was diddling around while fundamentalists in Afghanistan were gaining strength and sway. I didn’t ask about the relationship between 9/11 and Iraq, but the implication from this one soldier was that neither would have happened had the United States taken out Al Aqaeda ten years ago.
My soldier friend also told me that “CNN is a joke” – and that every single news vehicle (from any country) doesn’t have the big or little story on Iraq. He said he read the New York Times online every day and that it didn’t even begin to scratch the stories in and around Baghdad. He did say, a number of times, that he felt the U.S. was doing a lot of good there, though I kind of felt he was saying this out of some sense of obligation to those still serving there.
Another issue he brought up was the status of soldiers. The overall care he recieved in Baghdad was excellent, he told me. Every evening, they would have 31 flavors of Baskin Robbins ice cream available for dessert. The hospitals were superb and the medical care was top notch, for soldiers. In his estimation (he worked in the main U.S. hospital in Baghdad), 99% of all U.S. and Iraqi injuries were from IEDs and suicide bombers. There was absolutely nothing the U.S. could do to stop these, he explained, and there is no end in sight for a decrease in insurgency attacks.
I asked about the draft. He agreed with me that the U.S. will, indeed, have to institute a draft pretty soon if recruits aren’t being gained. Even the $40,000 sign up fee, the educational benefits, and quick-start career opportunity of the Army are not convincing young Americans to serve their country.
Perhaps most interesting was his photographs. He had taken many dozens of photos and showed them to me and other passenger on his laptop. He did not shoot blood or gore but he did clearly show the damage that tanks and other armored vehicles have sustained from various IEDs and bombs: the 5-inch thick glass windows pierced by a bomb, the 4-inch thick gash in the side of a Humvee, the demolished vehicles in the middle of the desert that are already sand-covered and useless. But he also showed me photographs of some of the holiest Christian and Muslim shrines in the country – places he went to with obvious risk. These were thousands of years old; some were pockmarked with recent bullets and armament while others stood intact.
After we deplaned, I ran into him again in the terminal. He said that people, in the past 12 hours since he’s returned, have said to him, over and over again, “Thank you.” And then he shook my hand and said to me, “Peace be with you.”